Archive for the ‘storytelling’ Category

playful storytelling opening session

Posted on: November 30th, 2016 by jnovakowski

Marie Thom and I hosted our opening session for our Playful Storytelling through the First Peoples Principles of Learning series. We are in the fourth year of this project in our district, involving ten elementary schools over the years.

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Many of the storytelling experiences we have engaged in so far have involved local plants and animals, the use of natural materials to create local settings, retelling of stories by indigenous authors and illustrators and the use of animal characters, story stones, puppets and “peg doll” characters for the students to create their own stories. We have attended professional learning opportunities at the Musqueam Cultural Centre to consider how culture, language and place could inspire our project.

After an acknowledgement of territory, a welcome, introductions, and an overview of the history of this project, as we sat in a circle, we asked each teacher to consider and then share what First Peoples Principle of Learning they identified with and why and to share what they were curious about in terms of this project for this school year.

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Kathleen Paiger and Ellen Reid, who taught together at Steves Elementary last year and are going into their third year of the project (Ellen is teaching at Blair this year), shared their story of their experience and their students’ experience in this project.

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Leanne McColl, one of our district’s teacher consultants shared the draft goals of our new Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreement with the Musqueam community and we considered how this continues to inspire and give meaning to our project.

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Leanne also shared information about the new Musqueam teaching resource and kit that was co-created with UBC’s Museum of Anthropology and the Musqueam Nation. The link to the online resources to support the Musqueam teaching kit developed by the Museum of Anthrop0logy and the Musqueam community is HERE.

To extend the story experiences we have been engaging in so far, we focused on the idea of creating story landscapes by weaving in more sensory experiences to our storytelling experiences- sounds, movement, textures and scents. I shared a video I had taken at Garry Point as an idea to use video of as a background or backdrop for storytelling experiences, inspired by the “forest room” created by the educators at Hilltop School in Seattle. The video can be viewed HERE.

Marie presented several storytelling provocations to inspire new layers and dimensions we could add to our storytelling experiences with students.

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img_8946To honour the importance of the learning through the oral tradition, at the beginning of our time together, we asked Michelle Hikida, who has been a part of this project since the first year, to listen during the session and to synthesize and summarize the key learnings at the end of the session. Michelle chose to use pictorial symbols to help her remember the four learnings she wanted to share with the group.

 

In their reflections at the end of the session, many teachers commented that they wanted to try more storytelling experiences outdoors as well as adding more sensory layers. We are looking forward to lots of inspiring and creative stories created by our students this year!

~Janice

reflections and highlights from 2015-2016

Posted on: June 30th, 2016 by jnovakowski

The end of June always brings lots of good-byes. We are losing about half of our curriculum department for Learning Services in Richmond – it has been an emotional month and change is always hard. We’ve been through a lot together as a team over the last three years and this year was particularly full with the addition of the two Curriculum Implementation days in our district. Through planning and hosting those two days, we have dug deep into understanding the aspects and layers of BC’s redesigned curriculum.

We have spent much of June “populating” the Curriculum page on Scholantis and planning for next year’s professional learning opportunities in Richmond.

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Next year will be an exciting year for our district as we embrace and enact BC’s redesigned curriculum. My portfolio is shifting from a focus on both K-12 Mathematics and Science to mostly focusing on K-12 Mathematics. Although I will continue to work on interdisciplinary projects the responsibility of curriculum “implementation” in science will be shifted to another teacher consultant’s portfolio (position to be filled soon).

As I look back on this past year, some professional highlights for me include:

  • the Creating Spaces for Playful Inquiry dinner series – this large group of K-7 teachers came together to engaged in provocations and think about playful inquiry across the curriculum; it was exciting to see this embraced beyond the early years and to see a large group of teachers in our district begin the ripple effect in their schools
  • sharing work from our district at the Northwest Math Conference in Whistler in October
  • the Provincial Numeracy Project – as a pilot project this year, three school teams took part in this project modelled after Changing Results for Young Readers
  • Science Jam was back for its thirteenth year at Aberdeen Centre – this year there was greater evidence of students’ personal inquiry questions being reflected in their projects
  • attending the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Annual Conference in San Francisco in April (thanks to the RTA for Major Conference Funding)
  • attending the Opal School Summer Symposium with a team of 17 educators from our School District
  • helping to support Inclusive Learning Communities projects at Cook and Boyd and thinking more deeply about inclusive practices in mathematics
  • continuing to the develop a working relationship with the Musqueam community as we think about storytelling, plants and mathematics
  • the number of mathematics and curriculum evenings I helped facilitate for parents this year
  • being a part of the BCAMT Reggio-Inspired Mathematics collaborative professional inquiry project – this project has grown in unexpected ways and it is so inspiring to work alongside teachers interested in making mathematics engaging for their students

And both a personal and professional highlight this year was celebrating 25 years of service to the Richmond School District – such a special event celebrated with colleagues.

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Thank you to my CNC colleagues for an amazing year together – best wishes as you move on to new adventures – Brooke, Sarah, Diane, Kevin, Gordon and Lorraine! And a special thank you and good-bye to our administrative assistant Lisa Buemann for all she has done to support me!

Have a wonderful summer!

~Janice

Richmond’s first IGNITE event – #sd38ignite 2016

Posted on: May 10th, 2016 by jnovakowski

The Richmond School District hosted its first IGNITE event on Monday, May 9th at the Big River Brew Pub. The first IGNITE took place in Seattle in 2006 and is now a movement that is international in scope. An IGNITE talk is a five minute presentation consisting of 20 slides, auto-advancing after 15 seconds whether the speaker is ready or not. The IGNITE tagline is….”Enlighten us, but make it quick!”  More information about the IGNITE movement can be found here.

Having presented a few ignite talks and experiencing the inspiration and fun that goes along with these social events, I really wanted to be able to bring this professional learning format to our district and my colleagues Rosalind Poon and Lorraine Minosky were on board and we ran with it. Chris Loat created our logo for us…

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And both Chris and Lisa Schwartz agreed to be our technical support for the event.  We found a site and had a meeting at the Big River Brew Pub to see where attendees would sit and how the technology and food service would play out.

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We invited Richmond educators representative of primary, intermediate and secondary as well as a balance of teachers and administrators to share a story about something they are passionate about. We also invited two out of district colleagues to add to our Richmond stories.

Two weeks before the event, we hosted a rehearsal especially for educators who were new to the ignite format. It gave them a chance to meet other igniters and to practice their presentation in front of an audience. By seeing and discussing what we appreciate about others’ presentations, I think it also gave presenters some ideas for their own ignites. And its always great to have sushi…and pens.

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As we were setting up on May 9th, we were all so excited to see everything fall into place. The venue was great and it was a beautiful day so the patio was open, the technology was cooperating and the tables were set with programs and sweet treats from Sinfully the Best for our guests.The burger bar was a hit and the company was great. Unfortunately two of our igniters (Neil Stephenson and Sarah Garr) had to pull out due to personal reasons.

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Some of the guests…

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And then the talks began! I was live streaming the talks using the Periscope app and people that weren’t able to attend the event could still watch the talks live. Between each “set” there was a 15-minute break for guests to chat about the talks, etc.

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Twitter was alive with #sd38ignite…we were trending!

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It was such a positive, passionate event and such a great way to build community amongst colleagues. All our igniters shared their own personal narratives within their professional narratives and these stories are what connect us and make us better together.

We will be releasing the IGNITE talks on youtube soon…watch twitter for announcements!

A HUGE thank you to our igniters…you are what made the event the success it was!

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~Janice

playful storytelling project celebration

Posted on: May 10th, 2016 by jnovakowski

On Thursday, May 5th Marie Thom and I hosted a year end sharing celebration for our Playful Storytelling through the First Peoples Principles of Learning project. This project began as a Ministry affiliated Quality Teaching and Learning project (hence the QTL tag in the category section of this blog) with four of our Richmond schools and has grown to ten schools being involved – Blair, Blundell, Diefenbaker, Kidd, Steves, Ferris, Cook, Tomsett, Bridge and Debeck. This year we were glad that a French Immersion school wanted to be a part of the project.

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We had our first session in the fall (blog post here) and teachers have been providing storytelling experiences to their students over the year. Because of other curricular demands, Marie and I haven’t been able to make it into classes as much this year but we were able to provide TTOC release to our teachers in the first year of the project to go an visit teachers’ classrooms who have been involved in the project for a couple of years. This proved to be a valuable experience!

At our event on Thursday, each school shared one thing that they have tried this year from felting story settings, retelling stories from picture books, creating cedar storyboards to creating story stones.

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Teachers shared their professional learning in different ways – through powerpoint slides, sharing student creations or preparing documentation panels.

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After a lovely dinner together, each school team was provided with some new resources from Native Northwest and Strong Nations. We looked through the new books and shared ways we might be able to use them in our classrooms.

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In asking teachers to reflect on their experiences in the project, they commented on a need to share resources and ideas and wanting more opportunities for collaboration and observations/visits to other classrooms.

When we asked teachers to consider a moment or event where they noticed a shift in their practice regarding the First Peoples Principles of Learning, some of the written reflections we received included:

“When I noticed during our sharing circles how students’ responses had changed and reflected the principles of patience and respect.”

“I noticed the children’s relationships to each other and the environment around them.”

“Children were using the ideas of place in their play.”

It is powerful to see the First Peoples Principles of Learning enacted in our classrooms and in our professional learning communities. Marie and I are looking forward to continuing our work with this project next year!

~Janice

intermediate storytelling at Blair

Posted on: February 22nd, 2016 by jnovakowski

Karen Choo, grades 4&5 teacher at Blair Elementary is part of our district’s Creating Spaces for Playful Inquiry series. In January, she shared her journey with a group of 50 educators – how she has been using morning provocations to uncover big ideas and big thinking in her classroom. She has a collection of loose parts in her classroom and along with art materials, provides opportunities for all her students to build and create ideas together.

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Karen and her students have been learning about Chinese Immigration to Canada, reading novels, information books and having rich discussions, many students making connections to their own families’ immigration stories. Although Karen’s students were familiar with using materials to represent and idea, they had not used them to create stories. We presented a table of materials along with the loose parts already available in the classroom.

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Karen noticed the high engagement with her students and also commented on the richness of the language and the role-playing that emerged in the stories. Karen commented that the concepts came alive for the students through the storytelling. It was interesting to note how the students wove in metaphors and symbols in their stories – such as the Chinese and Canadian flags and “gold mountain”.

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part of this story included how the head tax kept increasing

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Many of the stories involved travels across the ocean and the students created settings or symbols of the two worlds – China and Canada, separated by a journey.

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The students used the iPad camera to take photos of their stories and then use the 30Hands app to narrate their stories – often going outside to find a quiet place to record. As I listened to the students’ stories, I heard many connections to the students’ own personal experiences and their strong beliefs about social justice coming through.

Not only does storytelling create an opportunity for Social Studies and Science concepts to come alive for students, it also provides an opening for students to tell their stories, to share a bit of themselves.

~Janice

intermediate storytelling at Homma

Posted on: February 20th, 2016 by jnovakowski

I visited two classes at Homma Elementary in February to introduce oral storytelling using materials to inspire stories that consider the First Peoples Principles of Learning.

Carrie Bourne and her grades 4&5 French Immersion students have been using loose parts to represent ideas. We combined their collection of loose parts with a table full of natural materials and fabrics to create story settings, paying attention to the big ideas of self, place and the power of story. We first came together in a circle and the students shared some of their thinking about stories. We discussed big ideas around immigration (a focus of what they were studying in Social Studies) and made connections to books they have been reading about Indian Residential Schools, like Shi-shi-etko by Nicola Campbell (which is available en francais). Students shared their ideas about coming, going, leaving, arriving, connecting and dis-connecting with a focus on place. Students could choose to work by themselves or with a partner, as they created stories, inspired by the materials.

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After about an hour of the class circle and creating their stories, we asked the students to share their stories with another classmate or partnership. As students orally “rehearse” their stories, they are playing with ideas and language, synthesizing the theme or message their story. The students then captured their story using iPad technology by taking still photographs and using the app 30Hands to orally narrate their stories.

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Here are two video clips students practicing their stories:

Shi-shi-etko 

Grades 4&5 story

And here are some of the students’ stories that the captured using 30Hands and then posted to their Fresh Grade portfolios:

Grade 4&5 EFI Homma – place

Grade 4&5 EFI Homma – transition

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In Peter Ritchie’s grades 6&7 classroom, we began by watching a short video of Dr. Jo-Ann Archibald telling the story of Lady Louse (can be found HERE). We asked the students to pay attention to her storytelling technique and the students shared their observations about how she used her hands, varied the use of her voice and how she repeated the theme or message of the story in different ways throughout the story. They also noted how the story didn’t have a typical resolution in stories like they are familiar with, but left you thinking.

Peter had collected various plants and mosses from his brother’s property in Squamish and the students used these along with various other materials to create settings for their stories. We discussed the importance of creating an authentic environment and if they were using animals in their stories, to consider the place of the animal within the ecosystem.

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sharing our worldMany of the students were aware of animals portraying values or metaphors in stories from different cultures and we referred to the book Sharing Our World, for students to consider animals they might want to include in their stories. Possibly inspired by the materials presented them,  many of the students’ stories involved environmental themes. I noticed the students at this age (and also very fluent with using iPad technology) were  focused on creating detailed settings and used different camera angles and backgrounds to make sure there weren’t distracting items or people in their photos. As with Carrie’s class, they used the 30Hands app to load their photos and narrate their stories.

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The following are some of the students stories:

The Story of the Fox

Appreciate What You Have

Listen to Elders – The Hike

On the February 19th professional development day, the staff led a morning of looking at teaching and learning through the First Peoples Principles of Learning, and storytelling with materials was something that the staff engaged in themselves.

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I’m looking forward to hearing many more stories from Homma Elementary!

~Janice

 

intermediate storytelling at Cook

Posted on: February 14th, 2016 by jnovakowski

As a follow-up to an after school Leanne McColl and I held for grade 5 teachers (see post HERE) on Indian Residential Schools, I visited two of the grades 5&6 teachers at Cook Elementary to further explore the power of story with their students, making connections to self and place as part of their study of Indian Residential Schools, part of the redesigned Social Studies Curriculum. The teachers have been reading both picture books such as Shi-shi-etko and the novel Fatty Legs as part of this study, emphasizing the power of stories – stories that need to be told. Both Christy Rollo and Jo Fournier are also part of the Creating Spaces for Playful Inquiry series in our district and their students have been using loose parts to represent ideas and concepts.

sharing our worldWe gathered in a circle and discussed the power and purposes of stories, along with some questions to provoke and inspire their thinking. In both classes, the students were asked to consider a story they were familiar with or to think of their own story, something that was personal to them. For both contexts, the students were asked to pay particular attention to the setting or place. I read a few pages from the book Sharing Our World, which shares the significance and meaning animals portray in Aboriginal stories. Animal figures were provided as one of the choices for the students to use in their stories. The students were presented with a “buffet” of materials to choose from, to create their stories.

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The students had many choices to make – to work alone or with a partner or triad, what materials to choose, what type of story to create and tell. Some students sat with their choices and needed some time to think while others jumped to the materials and let the materials help to inspire their choices.

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The following are some photographs from Christy’s class where we had a variety of stories – personal narratives, retellings of Aboriginal stories, retellings of the class novel, retellings of childhood favourites and stories created specifically around one of the northwest animals.

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The students had a chance to practice telling their stories and then tell their stories to another group. The students took photographs of their story settings using the iPad camera, then importing the photos into the app 30Hands, where the students could then orally narrate their stories.

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The following week in Jo’s class, we narrowed the story choices to the focus of the Social Studies topic they were studying.

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The students were highly engaged with the materials, spending time developing an idea and setting for their stories. Where they needed the “nudging” was in the telling of their stories – thinking about ways to convey their message or theme. Many students drew upon familiar stories and how there was repetition of an idea throughout the story and they tried to weave this element into their own stories. Other students focused on characters’ actions and what they did and what happened to them. Some students embraced the ideas of self and place and created an interplay of these ideas in their stories.

In a few cases, students worked together to create their stories in their first language, often with much animation and expression. With support, they then practiced the main points of their story in English and recorded using the 30Hands app.

I also noticed that students at this age in general seemed more hesitant when sharing their stories with others compared to the excitement younger children show when asked to share their stories with each other. I wonder if using the iPad technology created an opportunity for students to record their stories in a such a way that seemed less “on display”? This is something I would like to ask the students about as we continue to learn about the importance of storytelling in the classroom. Christy and Jo both have the students engage in sharing circles and class discussions and have discourse structures in place to create a safe, connected community in their classrooms. I’m curious to hear how storytelling contributes to these communities and also how the existing communities provide the necessary environment for storytelling to flourish.

~Janice

playful storytelling project

Posted on: November 23rd, 2015 by jnovakowski

We are into our third year of a playful storytelling project that focuses on the First Peoples Principles of Learning. Blog posts about the first two years of the project can be found by clicking on the QTL category in the right side bar. The first year of the project was part of a Ministry initiative looking at Quality Teaching and Learning and since then it has been a district-based project. This year we have added three new schools – Debeck, Tomsett and Bridge, to bring the number of schools involved up to ten. Each school has a team of primary teachers, and often a teacher-librarian or learning resource teacher, that are engaging in professional learning and classroom-based experiences.

The goals of the project focus on creating opportunities for oral storytelling experiences in primary classrooms, with connections to place through the use of local natural materials and local plant, animals and stories. We also explore the language of place with the language of the place where we now live, work and go to school being the language of the Musqueam people - hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓.

Teachers new to the project along with members from our Aboriginal Success Team joined Marie Thom and I on the afternoon of October 27th for a lunch together, an introduction to the goals of the project, some gifts of materials and resources and time to plan together.

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School teams received baskets of materials and resources from Strong Nations, Native Northwest, FNESC and story baskets from ThinkinEd.

Diefenbaker teachers Kelly Hinks and Michelle Hikida, who have been involved in the project since the first year, shared some ideas and experiences from their classrooms and shared what they have learned and gained from being involved in the project. Both teachers commented that they both have more confidence teaching with Aboriginal content and through the First Peoples Principles of Learning and that this has come with increased knowledge and rich professional learning experiences as part of this project. They have also noticed increased awareness in their students of our local Aboriginal communities and high engagement in storytelling experiences.

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We are looking forward to documenting lots of wonderful stories being created in Richmond classrooms and are using the hashtag #sd38story to share on Twitter.

-Janice

place-based digital storytelling

Posted on: June 7th, 2015 by jnovakowski 1 Comment

Four grades 3-5 teachers at Anderson Elementary came together for an Innovation Grant project, wanting to look at how they might integrate iPad technology into their First Nations curricular focus. I met with the teachers and we brainstormed ideas together, looking at the First Peoples Principles of Learning and focusing on the principles of self-identity, story and connectedness to place.

I met with each of the classes and we looked at an aerial map of Richmond and its surrounding waterways. We asked students to try and determine where Anderson Elementary would be on the map, trying to get a sense of their awareness of the place where they live and go to school. We talked about the formation of our island delta and the arms of the river surrounding it.

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We also looked at the Musqueam place names map on the Musqueam website and discussed how the names of places were descriptive or purposeful – such as the “boiling point” – the place where people gathered to boil clams and crabs over a fire or the driftwood beach – the place where large logs and driftwood accumulated along the river. We then visited the neighbouring Garden City park and students thought of a special place there that they felt connected to or had a story to share about and considered what they would name that place. Using the camera app on the iPads, the students took photographs from different perspectives of their special places.

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To create the students’ digital stories, we did some “app smashing” using the camera app to take photos, taking screenshots of maps on Google Earth, using DoodleBuddy to create title slides and 30Hands to put the images and student narration together to create stories of their special places.

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The following are links to one digital storytelling project from each of the four classes:

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Anderson 6-1

Anderson 4-1

Anderson 5-1

Teachers Lotti Smith, Adrienne Ferguson, Sandy Dhari and Richelle Walliser shared their project at the Innovation Celebration at the end of May.

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~Janice

creating cedar storyboards

Posted on: June 7th, 2015 by jnovakowski

Inspiration comes from all sorts of places…connections are made, ideas emerge and a plan of action gets set in motion. A friends is an eco-artist and she recently posted an image of a repurposed roof shingle she used for an art class with students. I quickly made my way over to our local building supply store in Steveston to see what kind of red cedar shingles or shims were available. I bought a huge bundle of cedar shakes for $30.

As part of our QTL storytelling project, many of the classes involved have been learning about local plants and animals and the importance of the cedar tree to local Aboriginal communities. We have also learned that although totem poles are iconic to the northwest coast, the local Musqueam community did not carve totem poles but did have house posts and beams carved from cedar.

I worked with Michelle Hikida and her grade 2&3 class at Diefenbaker to develop this project. We began by introducing the boards to the students the smell of fresh cedar filled the classroom. Connecting to a story Michelle had read the class (Totem Tale by Deb Vanasse), we introduced the idea of a symbol or image that would represent part of a story. The students then created their stories using materials and practiced telling them to each other. Michelle then created a story plan for them to think about the sequence of their stories and what symbols might be important. Then, the students practiced drawing their symbols before painting them on their boards. The students then used their storyboards to retell their stories to each other and to students from other classes.

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At our year end sharing session with teachers involved in the QTL project, Michelle brought her students’ story planks and shared the process with other teachers, many who were inspired to try this with their own classes.

We also put out extra cedar shakes and acrylic paints and asked teachers to share their own story of this professional learning experience.

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~Janice